Black bear sightings on the rise, turkey harvests surpass 10K

Published 1:48 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Black bears are starting to get on the move as yearling male bears are kicked out of their mom’s home range and the breeding season is on the horizon in July. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has a webpage where people can report bear sightings and view where those sightings are. Since 2016, 371 bear sightings have been reported in Mississippi, seven sightings were reported this month. 

Black bears are native to Louisiana and Mississippi. MDWFP estimates there was a population of fewer than 50 black bears in Mississippi prior to the start of the Black Bear Program. Populations have recovered significantly in the past two decades and sightings are becoming more common.

Since 2016, one black bear was seen in Lincoln, Pike and Lawrence Counties. Mississippians reported two sightings in Walthall, six in Copiah, eight in Adams, 11 in Franklin, 12 in Jefferson, 19 in Claiborne and 21 bear sightings in Wilkinson Counties. 

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Black bears are typically secretive and not normally aggressive towards humans. Black bear attacks in general are very rare.

Humans can create dangerous situations by feeding the bears. Giving bears food allows them to associate humans with food, and it can cause them to demand food. The best thing for people to do with bears is leave them alone. Visit the black bear webpage on to report sightings and for more information. 

Harvests reports surpass 10,000 turkeys

Hunters in Mississippi have reported over 10,000 harvests through MDWFP’s Game Check. The season has another week left before the end of the spring turkey season. Turkey harvests in Mississippi are required by state law to be reported through Game Check online at or through the MDWFP app. 

Game Check shows 10,183 turkeys have been harvested this season. Copiah County leads the Southwest region with 243 toms bagged. Lincoln County shows 142 harvests, Franklin has had 195 harvests, Adams County has had 185 harvests, Pike County has had 89 harvests and Lawerence has had 83 harvests. Jefferson County has had 164 harvests and Wilkinson County has had 133 harvests. The state leader in harvests is Marshall County. 

Dove season prep

It might be far beyond the end of Spring Turkey and Spring Squirrel Season but the opening day of Dove season will be here before you know it. MDWFP suggests the best time to prepare for dove season is now. 

Brush hog and disk an area between now and the end of May to prepare for planting of sunflowers, millett and any other seed bearing plants ahead of dove season. Once you have prepared a site for planting, be sure to get your soil tested through your local Mississippi State University extension office. Soil test kits can be found at your local co-op or seed store. 

A soil test can give a land owner or habitat manager a good idea as to how much lime or fertilizer a dove field might need before planting. People can schedule a free consultation with MDWFP’s Private Land Biologists to draw up goals and a plan for wildlife and habitat management.